The Quietus - A new rock music and pop culture website


Julian Marszalek , July 12th, 2012 12:51

Julian Marszalek finds a revitalised band playing an intimate gig at London's Lexington. Photograph by Andrew Novell

The last time The Quietus encountered Yeasayer (at the Leeds Festival in 2010) was to bear witness to a band on its last legs. Exhausted from a punishing touring schedule, this was a band seemingly as bored with its own material as it was its surrounding. When a tired Chris Keating told the audience, “We're going home in a few hours” this wasn't as much a statement of intent as it was a huge sigh of relief.

The New Model Yeasayer of 2012 is very different beast as it arrives in the intimate environs of London's The Lexington. Reinvigorated and refreshed, this is a band almost bursting with a palpable excitement to preview material from their third album, Fragrant World. Moreover, as the material from that album that dominates tonight's proceedings displays, Yeasayer is a band that has progressed in huge leaps and bounds since the afro-hippy inflections of their debut, All Hour Cymbals. If Odd Blood found a band striving to find a new vernacular for 21st century pop, then the tasters from Fragrant World see them move further on in achieving that objective.

The arpeggiated and otherworldly sounds of Anand Wilder's guitar that usher in opening track 'Don't Come Close' give way to a greater use of electronics and throbbing rhythms than had been utilised before and it soon becomes apparent that Yeasayer have used their downtime constructively. As exemplified by the likes of 'Reagan's Skeleton' and recent single, 'Henrietta', there's a greater use of bass-heavy dynamics and sustained electronic pulses that beautifully compliments the harmonies that frequently drive the musical narrative.

Yeasayer's keenness for development is also extended to the more familiar material that gets The Lexington moving. Though 'Madder Red' - which makes an early appearance – remains unchanged, 'O.N.E.' and 'Ambling Alp' are like remixed versions of themselves that surrender themselves to the new rhythms on show tonight and the effect isn't unlike meeting an old friend who's undergone a makeover.

On the evidence of tonight's performance, Yeasayer has made it past the so-called difficult-second-album (which, let's face it, was far from that) to find themselves in the almost luxurious position of having a veritable treasure trove to mine material from. Their enthusiasm and performance is as infectious as the new material that's presented tonight and the sight of label boss Daniel Miller frugging throughout bears testament to this. Theirs is indeed a fragrant world and right now it's theirs for the taking.